Vaginas 101: Everything You Need to Know about the Vagina

vagina vulva

Here are some important things to know about the vagina:

  • The vagina connects the vulva to the cervix.
  • The vagina ages along with the rest of your body.
  • When you are sexually aroused, blood flows to the vagina to make it larger, and more arousal fluid is produced.

It is common for people to use the term "vagina" to refer to the entire female genital region between the legs, but this is not correct. The correct name for the external parts of the female genitalia is the vulva. The vulva includes the glans clitoris, labia minora and majora, opening of the urethra and vagina (introitus), and the surrounding tissue.

What is a vagina?

The vagina is a tube-like structure in the female reproductive system that connects the vulva to the cervix. It serves as the birth canal for babies during childbirth, and is also where menstrual blood exits the body during periods. The vagina can also be used for sexual activity and the insertion of objects such as tampons, menstrual cups, and sex toys. It can also act as a route for medications and contraceptives to be administered through the walls of the vagina. During penis-vagina sex, ejaculate is deposited in the vagina, which allows sperm to enter the uterus through the cervix.

Anatomy of the vagina

The vagina is not just a simple tube and has a complex anatomy that allows it to hold a tampon in place while also being able to stretch and accommodate the passage of a baby during childbirth. When in a relaxed state, the walls of the vagina are flattened against each other by the pressure of surrounding organs in the pelvis. The walls of the vagina are covered in folds called rugae, which have many functions including providing a barrier and access route between the cervix and the outside world. They also allow the vagina to stretch like an accordion when pressure is applied to the sides. The walls of the vagina are made up of different layers of tissue, including mucosal tissue on the surface and smooth muscle tissue, collagen, and elastin fibers underneath. The vagina produces fluids to keep the area moist and increase lubrication during sexual arousal, and is also able to absorb some substances such as medications and contraceptives.

How the vagina changes during sex

The vagina can undergo rapid changes in response to sexual arousal, in which increased blood flow is directed towards the genitals, causing the tissue to become engorged with blood and producing additional lubrication called arousal fluid. During sexual excitement, the vagina expands and changes shape, a process called vaginal tenting and ballooning, which happens as the uterus and cervix are drawn higher into the pelvis and creates more space. This movement of the cervix away from any semen that may be ejaculated into the vagina allows time for the semen to mix with female genital fluids and stimulate the sperm to fertilize an egg. The vagina is a dynamic and complex organ that changes due to hormonal fluctuations, life stages, and physical responses.